Thursday, July 26, 2007

"Meanest Mother"
I had the meanest mother in the whole world. While other kids ate candy for breakfast, I had to have cereal, eggs or toast. When othershad cokes and candy for lunch, I had to eat a sandwich. As you canguess, my supper was different than the other kids' also.But at least, I wasn't alone in my sufferings. My sister and twobrothers had the same mean mother as I did.
My mother insisted upon knowing where we were at all times. You'dthink we were on a chain gang. She had to know who our friends were andwhere we were going. She insisted if we said we'd be gone an hour, thatwe be gone one hour or less--not one hour and one minute. I am nearlyashamed to admit it, but she actually struck us. Not once, but eachtime we had a mind of our own and did as we pleased. That poor belt wasused more on our seats than it was to hold up Daddy's pants. Can youimagine someone actualy hitting a child just because he disobeyed? Nowyou can begin to see how mean she really was.
We had to wear clean clothes and take a bath. The other kids alwayswore their clothes for days. We reached the height of insults becauseshe made our clothes herself, just to save money. Why, oh why, did wehave to have a mother who made us feel different from our friends?
The worst is yet to come. We had to be in bed by nine each nightand up at eight the next morning. We couldn't sleep till noon like ourfriends. So while they slept-my mother actually had the nerve to breakthe child-labor law. She made us work. We had to wash dishes, makebeds, learn to cook and all sorts of cruel things. I believe she laidawake at night thinking up mean things to do to us.
She always insisted upon us telling the truth, the whole truth andnothing but the truth, even if it killed us- and it nearly did.By the time we were teen-agers, she was much wiser, and our lifebecame even more unbearable. None of this tooting the horn of a car forus to come running. She embarrassed us to no end by making our datesand friends come to the door to get us. If I spent the night with agirlfriend, can you imagine she checked on me to see if I were reallythere. I never had the chance to elope to Mexico. That is if I'd had aboyfriend to elope with. I forgot to mention, while my friends weredating at the mature age of 12 and 13, my old fashioned mother refusedto let me date until the age of 15 and 16. Fifteen, that is, if youdated only to go to a school function. And that was maybe twice a year.
Through the years, things didn't improve a bit. We could not liein bed, "sick" like our friends did, and miss school. If our friendshad a toe ache, a hang nail or serious ailment, they could stay homefrom school. Our marks in school had to be up to par. Our friends'report cards had beautiful colors on them, black for passing, red forfailing. My mother being as different as she was, would settle fornothing less than ugly black marks.
As the years rolled by, first one and then the other of us was putto shame. We were graduated from high school. With our mother behindus, talking, hitting and demanding respect, none of us was allowed thepleasure of being a drop-out.
My mother was a complete failure as a mother. Out of fourchildren, a couple of us attained some higher education. None of ushave ever been arrested, divorced or beaten his mate. Each of mybrothers served his time in the service of this country. And whom do wehave to blame for the terrible way we turned out? You're right, ourmean mother. Look at the things we missed. We never got to take part in a riot, burn draft cards, burn the flag, and amillion and one other things that our friends did.
She forced us to grow up into God-fearing, educated, honest adults.Using this as a background, I am trying to raise my threechildren. I stand a little taller and I am filled with pride when mychildren call me mean.
Because, you see, I thank God, He gave me the meanest mother in the whole world.

bobbie's note:Yes, I am the author of the "Meanest Mother." There are many, many copies on the internet, a lot of them revised editions.

It was first published in the Our Sunday Visitor, a Catholic newspaper, in 1967, and again in Guideposts, a magazine, by Dr. Norman Vincent Peale. It has a copyright.

I never mind anyone using it, non-profit, as long as they use the original and my name as author. The only thing that I ever asked is that people use the original and my name as author. People have shortened it, added onto it, edited, modified and some have even claimed to be the author. It seems to have taken on a life of its own, and I have spent many years trying to keep it corrected. I wrote this because my three children thought I was such a mean mom. I never intended to have it published, but friends and family encouraged me to submit it for publication.
I have heard many stories as to how people received it. I suppose the one that touched my heart the most, was the lady who said it was read at a dinner after her mother's funeral.

Thank you for asking for permission. Most people don't ask. Thank you,
~ Bobbie Pingaro

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